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Martin Luther King Vs Malcolm X

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MLK vs. X

Martin Luther King Jr and Malcolm X were both central figures as leaders in the civil rights movement of the nineteen sixties. Although both leaders were striving towards the same goal of achieving equality, they both took different approaches to accomplishing their goals. This is evident through Martin Luther King's Letter From Birmingham Jail, and Malcolm X's speech The Ballot Or The Bullet. Martin Luther King Jr felt the best way to reach racial equality was to keep faith in America. His approach was to preach the words of the Christianity through nonviolent protests, while refusing to conform to laws which provided rights and privileges to whites only. Malcolm X differed from Dr. King in that he was a Muslim that believed that change needed to be invoked through politics, claiming that America had failed African Americans through their inability to treat them like equal citizens. He believed that African Americans needed to stand up for themselves and meet with opposition preferably nonviolently, but violently if provoked to do so. Although both had opposing leadership styles, they both shared a lack of patience to sit around and wait for change to eventually happen. They both refused to be treated like second class citizens any longer and decided to make a drastic change.

Martin Luther King Jr. was the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference who traveled across the south attending to injustices that were occurring throughout. Martin Luther King stated the structure of his nonviolent campaign included "Four basic steps: (1) collection of the facts to determine whether injustices were alive; (2) Negotiation; (3) self-purification; and (4) direct action."(pg59) Martin Luther King's strategy was to resolve civil rights violations by accompanying them in person to protest the injustices that were occurring. He believed that if he could portray the ignorance of racial segregation as well as the suffering that accompanied along with it in the eyes of the media that he could spark a change in the way people thought. Dr. King portrayed this through campaign's in which he negotiated for the equal rights of African Americans being suppressed. With protest came resistance, in response King said, "We are not unmindful of the difficulties involved. So we decided to go through a process of self-purification. We stared having workshops on nonviolence and repeatedly asked our selves the questions "Are you able to accept blows without retaliating?" Are you able to endure the ordeals of Jail?"(Pg59) This was how Dr. King planned to get his point across to America. He believed that nonviolent tactics was more effective than violent tactics because he had a larger goal. Dr. King wanted racial equality through the laws of America, but more importantly in the eyes of Americans. Dr. King eventually stressed this point when he gave his famous speech, "I Have a Dream." In the speech he discussed having a dream where he saw people coming together and seeing each other as people having no regard for their ethnicity; people who would judge another persons worth on the integrity of their character and not the color of their skin. Dr. King's theory was that peace needed to be achieved through peace, violence would only lead to more violence. Dr. King believed that the last step to achieving equality was through direct action. For example he says, "Why direct action?...Non violent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and create such a creative tension that a community that has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks to dramatize the issue so that it can no longer be ignored."(pg60) Dr. King forced oppressors to deal with issues by creating a tension that he believed was necessary for growth. By acting nonviolently he forced the law to deal with him and his cause with their minds instead of their fists, and if the law resorted to violence its ignorance was shown in the news by the media. Dr. King created tension in order to promote change in segregation, but was still a big advocate of following America's just laws. For instance, "There are just laws and unjust laws. I would be the first to advocate obeying just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws."(pg63) Dr. King did not just pick out which laws he felt that he wanted to follow; he disobeyed laws which segregated rights and privileges from African Americans. He broke these laws to show that the laws were not justifiable, and that he would rather suffer the consequences of refusal to obey, than be stripped of his God given freedom. In regards to what laws are unjust he says, "An unjust law is a code that a majority inflicts on a minority that is not binding on itself. This is difference made legal. On the other hand a just law is a code that a majority compels a minority to follow that it is willing to follow itself. This is sameness made legal."(pg63) These were the laws that Dr. King set out to change, one by one in order to completely absolve segregation. Distinguishing himself from Malcolm X and the black nationalists Dr. King spoke of their cause and ideals in saying,

"The other force is one of bitterness and hatred and comes perilously close to advocating violence. It is expressed in the various black nationalists groups that are springing up all over the nation, and the largest and best known being Elijah Muhammad's Muslim movement. The movement is nourished by the contemporary frustration over the continued existence of racial discrimination. It is made up of people that have lost faith in America, who have absolutely repudiated Christianity, and have concluded that the white man is the "incurable devil." (pg67)

As one can see Dr. Kings approach utilizes non violence tactics and is drastically different from the alternative approach; of an eye for an eye.

Malcolm X was a Muslim minister as well as an advocate for the Black Nationalist's party. Unlike Dr. King, Malcolm X did not incorporate religion with his political views. For example Malcolm X said, "Its true were Muslims and our religion is Islam, but we do not mix our religion with politics and our economics and our social and civil activities-not any more."(pg91) Malcolm X felt the approach to gaining freedom from oppression was to take on America politically. His strategy was to educate African Americans on how to vote to pull filibuster politicians out of congress whom he believed offered African American promises of change, in order to gain office while never having any intentions of delivering on the promises made. For instance he said, "It's the year



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